After Google's decision to wind down the Reserve with Google application, many operators were curious what would come next, and how it would affect their search discoverability and online booking flow.
Here is a brief history of the update and what it means for key stakeholders in the industry:
Exit Reserve with Google
Reserve with Google allowed online searchers to book an activity directly from the Google My Business listing for any given attraction. Since Google search is by far the largest referrer of web traffic on the internet, this was closely watched by operators.
Reserve with Google featured a "Buy Tickets" button, which would redirect customers complete their booking through an Online Travel Agency (OTA) or an approved ticketing and reservation technology provider, connecting on behalf of their attraction customer. While simple in theory, this created a few problems.
Operators spend money on Google ads and search engine optimization primarily to sell directly to customers. By inserting OTAs into the process to complete the transaction, operators lose control of their channel management strategy and are forced to pay OTA commissions on their hard earned Google bookings.
After much debate, on August 1, 2021, Reserve with Google was discontinued.
Enter Google Things To Do
After much anticipation, Google Things To Do was released with a host of changes from its predecessor. It functions as an aggregator of activities based on location-based search, following a similar path of Google hotel and flight products.
In this comprehensive article, Arival shared a few key points about how this upgrade helps attraction operators:
- The Google My Business page for an attraction will default link back directly to either their website, or any OTA listing or ResTech provider of their choosing. The channel gives operators the option of a commission free direct sale.
- The links will begin on a free model, but shift over time to preferred placement by paid ads - much like Google search ads.
- Their recent activity is an indicator that Google Travel is working toward building a large referral engine within attractions. This will be a product to watch over the next several years.
RocketRez is thrilled to announce we have now completed a Phase One integration with Google Things To Do. This will allow our attraction customers to list directly and show up on Google searches.
RocketRez has been working with the Google team and will act as the connection to help you list and onboard with them.
Our current integration provides custom imagery and content about your offer, as well as pre-determined rates, and links directly to your RocketRez Web Engine. Google is renowned for tightly monitoring their algorithm and penalizing businesses and individuals that try "short-cut" tactics in order to rank better. Our in-house experts have worked with Google, and can guide you through the process to ensure you're complying with the rules of their algorithm for maximum discoverability.
As of now, the integration is only available to attractions, and only ticket prices will be displayed. Over time, additional products like retail, food & beverage and lodging will be added. Functionality to add rating and reviews, as well as reporting for marketing attribution will be part of the next phase of development.